Noah’s Ark is the biggest stumbling block against a literal belief in the Bible. But the story is still real, and relevant to today.
New interest in Noah’s Ark
Two recent events have people paying attention to the story of the Global Flood and Noah’s Ark. Specifically:
- A State tourism development board has approved start-up tax incentives for a new theme park in Kentucky. The centerpiece of the park will be a full-sized shipwright’s concept of Noah’s Ark.
- A Japanese industrialist has designed a new kind of “lifeboat for the land,” that people can use to survive a tsunami. He based his design on Noah’s Ark.
Interest in Noah’s Ark is not new. The worldwide recession (depression?) caused many visitors to flock to several Noah’s Ark concept models that already stand in various cities around the world.
But people today find the story hard to believe, because they cannot imagine it. A child will accept the Flood story without question. An adult will not. So he asks perfectly good questions, and might even think that no one can answer them. But—though he might not want to admit it—his questions do have answers.
Questions about the Global Flood
Where did the Flood waters come from, and where did they go?
The Flood waters began as a vast ocean in a sealed room under the earth’s crust. Back then, the crust was ten miles thick. On the date that the Bible gives (17 Vul AM 1656), a hairline crack appeared in the crust. The tremendous pressure beneath it widened that crack very quickly, until it went all the way around the world.
This water was supercritical (so hot and so compressed that liquid and vapor literally dissolved each other). When the crack let this water out of its prison, it shot up, cooled down, and fell back as rain and hail. So the “fountains of the great deep” were the oceans of water under the crust, the “break-out” was the crack in the crust, and the “windows of heaven opening” and “forty days and forty nights of rain” were the waters shooting high into the sky and falling back. (And they didn’t all fall back! About one percent of the earth’s total weight sailed on to form comets, asteroids and meteoroids.)
This water did not “go” anywhere. It’s still here, except for the part that escaped into outer space. The Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Arctic Oceans hold it now. The crack is still here, too. We call it the Mid-Oceanic Ridge system.
How could Noah’s Ark stay afloat in such incredibly rough seas?
Simple: Noah’s Ark had the best proportions of any ship built before or since. Its proportions are 30:5:3. That 5:3 ratio is close to golden. That is, the ratio of height to beam is almost the same as the ratio of the beam to the sum of beam plus height. Architects know that a door or window cut to that proportion is most pleasing to the eye. Naval architects know that ratio strikes the best balance between stability and “sea-kindliness.” Actual sea trials show that a vessel with those proportions would not break, capsize, or give too rough a ride to its crew and cargo.
Why wouldn’t the hot waters have parboiled Noah’s Ark and everyone and everything on board?
Remember two things. First, the water was at the critical temperature or slightly hotter—before the crack in the crust let it out. Once it got out, it spread out—and cooled down very fast.
Think of your refrigerator. A home refrigerator uses a gas called freon to cool things down. First, a compressor will put liquid freon under pressure. Then the liquid passes into a large chamber, that will immediately take the pressure off. When that happens, the freon will expand and become a gas. To do that, it must take heat from its surroundings. Turning anything from liquid to gas takes energy. This cold gas will pass to a condenser, become liquid again, and flow back to the compressor.
The Flood waters simply spread out and changed from supercritical fluid to water vapor in little more than an instant. The mass of water that flowed over the earth cooled down to a temperature quite comfortable for a wooden ship like Noah’s Ark. The water that shot up into the sky either fell back as rain, or froze and fell back as hail. So Noah’s Ark was in no danger of “parboiling.”
Second: the water would not have been as hot as lava from a volcano. Before the Flood, the earth had no volcanoes. The tremendous heat locked up in the earth below its crust came from two causes:
- The crust broke up into plates that crashed into the floor of the old water chamber, or into one another.
- With much of the earth’s mass falling in on itself, all that energy had to go somewhere. If something falls onto something else and can’t move anymore, everything gets hot. That’s the First Law of Thermodynamics.
This didn’t threaten Noah’s Ark because the heat release came after the Flood began, not before.
Questions about Noah’s Ark
How did only eight people take care of all those animals?
Noah built the Ark to make caring for the animals easy. True, most zoos today have many more employees for the number of animals in their care than Noah had available on Noah’s Ark. But that does not mean that the zoo builders were the greatest architects that ever practices. Noah already had 480 years of life under his belt before he started to build Noah’s Ark. He would have known to build everything “ship-shape.” Tim Lovett (Noah’s Ark: Thinking Outside the Box) drew these concepts for the cages of various sizes that Noah’s Ark might have used.
What about sea creatures?
What about them? Noah’s Ark needed room only for the land animals. The sea creatures could take care of themselves, and did.
What about freshwater fish and so on?
Give those animals some credit for being adaptable! They wouldn’t have had to adapt to the very salty oceans of today.
What about dinosaurs? Was the Ark really big enough to hold even one of them?
The largest dinosaurs had hundreds of years to grow that large. Noah’s Ark was large enough to carry young and young-adult dinosaurs.
How could Noah’s Ark possibly carry two of every species of land animal and bird that we know today?
It didn’t have to. Creation science does not say that God created every modern species in the six-day Creation Week. The Bible mentioned kinds, not “species” as we understand the word. The created kinds are the families of modern biology. (Even if the kinds are the genera of today, Noah’s Ark would have big enough to carry two of every kind, with room to spare.)
How did kangaroos, koalas, and other species from Australia or New Zealand get aboard Noah’s Ark?
They walked, and didn’t have to swim. Before the Flood began, all the continents were one continent. The crack in the world broke the Americas off from the modern Eastern Hemisphere—and shoved them violently to the west. That, incidentally, is why we have the Rocky/Sierra Madre/Andes mountain chain, and the Appalachian mountain chain further east. (And haven’t you noticed? Most mountain chains run north-to-south, not east-to-west. Ever wondered why? A mountain chain is a wrinkle in the crust, and wrinkles happen when a moving sheet stops moving and folds up.)
You mean they walked all that distance to that one spot?
Sure. They had plenty of time—120 years. And Noah’s Ark was probably at the travel centroid of the world, the one place to which the sum of all travel distances would be the shortest. That travel centroid persists today—at Jerusalem.
Any other questions?
Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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